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Rangers' Nash won't let goal slump bring him down

by Shawn Roarke / NHL.com

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Not scoring goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is a reality of which New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash is all too familiar.

Once again he is looking to find a postseason hot streak as the Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Washington Capitals reaches Game 3 (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). The teams split the first two games in the best-of-7 series in New York.

In seven games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Nash has one goal, which is the same total he managed during a 12-game playoff run with the Rangers in 2013. Last season Nash scored three goals in 25 games as the Rangers marched to the Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Los Angeles Kings.

In 48 NHL playoff games Nash has six goals. He scored 42 regular-season goals this season, the third-highest total in the League.

"I've been through this before," Nash said after the morning skate at Verizon Center. "The negative doesn't get you anywhere. In here we are positive things will go in. We're winning and we are in the playoffs and we are tied 1-1 and it is still an exciting time."

If there is anything good that has come out of Nash's past struggles, it is the fact that he is better equipped to deal with the current drought. His defensive game has not suffered and he is contributing in other ways. He is tied for the Rangers lead in points with five and he played a huge role in Dan Boyle's goal in Game 2, although he was not credited with an assist, by screening Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.

"He's always been very positive," Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said. "That's the great thing about Rick; when it is going well you don't notice a change in him and when it is not going well you don't notice a change. That is what you want, somebody who comes in, prepares himself for every practice or game and focuses on trying to be an all-around player, whether it is offensive or defensive [play].

"Obviously he is known for being offensive and scoring goals, but there are plenty of things he is doing to help our chances to win and all he cares about and this group cares about is giving ourselves the best chance to win. If we need a goal and he happens to be a part of it, that's great. If we need a defensive play, we feel just as confident in him in that situation."

While Nash is happy about his defensive contributions in this series and against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, he knows the number of goals he scores will be the criteria upon which he will be judged.

So he will keep working and keep believing that his luck soon will change.

"You just have to keep trying to get on the inside," Nash said. "I can't allow my game to be completely on the outside. I have to get to the inside; that's the biggest thing. You can always do more. There's always more I can do to try to score."

Here are the projected lineups:

RANGERS

Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Martin St. Louis

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Jesper Fast

Carl Hagelin - Kevin Hayes - J.T. Miller

James Sheppard- Dominic Moore- Tanner Glass

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Kevin Klein

Keith Yandle - Dan Boyle

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Ryan Bourque, Matt Hunwick, Chris Summers

Injured: Mats Zuccarello (upper body)

CAPITALS

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Joel Ward

Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Jason Chimera

Andre Burakovsky - Jay Beagle - Troy Brouwer

Curtis Glencross - Brooks Laich - Tom Wilson

Brooks Orpik - John Carlson

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner

Mike Green - Tim Gleason

Braden Holtby

Justin Peters

Scratched: Michael Latta, Nate Schmidt

Injured: Eric Fehr (upper body), John Erskine (neck surgery), Dmitry Orlov (wrist)

Status report: Zuccarello did not make the trip. He is day-to-day because of an upper-body injury. He likely won't play in Game 4 on Wednesday as well.

Who's hot: Fast has a point in each of the first two games. He scored New York's goal in a 2-1 loss in Game 1 and had an assist in Game 2. Vigneault called Game 2 one of Fast's best since joining the Rangers. … Hagelin also has a point in each game. … Brassard leads the Rangers with four goals and is tied for the lead with five points.

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